Lipica, Slovenia (September 29, 2011) – Suzy Stafford and registered half-Arabian mare Miss Josephine put in a brilliant performance at the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Slovenia where they were awarded with the Individual Bronze Medal, Stafford’s second consecutive Individual Bronze. Stafford and Miss Josephine were competing as individuals for Team USA, marking the first time an Arabian competed for the United States.
“Josie and I had a great run in Lipica,” Stafford said. “Josie has an amazing heart and loves a challenge, which makes her a great international competitor. Arabians are a very versatile breed and they really can excel in any discipline,” Stafford said. “After all Josie was a lead line horse for a beginner, in addition to being a competitor at the World Pony Driving Championships. It doesn’t get much more versatile than that!”
Stafford and Josie finished fifth after the dressage and were five points off the leader going into the marathon. “Josie was awesome in the dressage; she was the best she has ever been. I couldn’t believe it when we went in the ring,” said Stafford. “She knew it was a big deal and puffed herself up. She showed off like a true pro. We had one mistake at the end of the dressage test that lowered our score a bit, but I could not be happier with how hard Josie tried for me! These are the moments that remind me why I have made horses my way of life. Sometimes it’s not about winning; it’s about the partnership.”
The pair moved up to fourth after the marathon followed by a precise and fast cones round that put them in third, securing the Individual Bronze Medal. “Josie’s strength and character overshadowed her lack of experience in the marathon,” said Stafford. “The course required a lot of strength and speed. I still find it amazing how powerful this little horse is!”
The team behind Stafford played a major part in her success; from her sponsors to her grooms, bringing in a medal at a World Championship venue takes the support of an entire team. “I had a great group of people with me at the show,” said Stafford. “Larry Hart, my navigator kept all four wheels on the ground during the fast paced marathon course and his wife, Meredith Fetters, helped me secure the Bronze Medal by riding on the back of the carriage during the cones.”
The next step for Miss Josephine will be a life in the lap of luxury. The mare was sold to Beth Steinke, and will be going with her to Maine when she flies back to the United States. “Josie has been a great partner and I’m happy that she has found a good home. Beth has plans to ride and drive her as both a single and a pair. She earned herself a good home with some lower level competitions and pleasure driving in her future.”
For more information on Stafford, visit her website at www.staffordcarriagedriving.com.